Local veteran to take Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., after COVID-19 delay
By Brady Extin | The Times-Post
PENDLETON — For one Pendleton resident, this upcoming weekend will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
John Hendrix, a veteran of the U.S. Army, will be a member of an Indy Honor Flight trip to Washington, D.C.
“I’ve never gotten this far with it, but we’re going to try and see a lot of things,” Hendrix said. “There’s going to be a lot of stuff going on for us that day.”
Indy Honor Flight is an organization that gives veterans of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War the chance to travel to the country’s capital free of charge for a one-day trip to see the various memorials built in their honor.
While the trip to Washington, D.C., takes place on Saturday, the weekend festivities begin on Friday night with a meet and greet at Plainfield High School for the 86 veterans and guardians making the trip. The group then flies out of the Indianapolis International Airport early on Saturday morning and returns for a homecoming celebration the same night back at Plainfield High School.
“We at least try and go to the homecoming every year, because all of those veterans are the reason we have peace in the country,” said Alan Heath, Hendrix’s friend and guardian on the trip.
Heath, who has been friends with Hendrix for the past few decades through their time attending North Christian Church in Markleville, has made the trip to Washington, D.C., a few times before, but this time, to bring Hendrix with him makes it even more special for him.
“We’ve been going to church for probably 25 or 30 years together, and I knew John was in the military during that era, so I got him an application to go, and he got asked to go,” Heath said. “It’s very emotional and very touching. When we get to Washington there are people that don’t even know us that are out there waiting for us. A lot of those vets didn’t get a welcome home party, so this is a celebration for them.”
Throughout the day, the group will make stops to see the World War II monument, the Vietnam War monument, and the Korean War monument, along with Arlington National Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Other stops such as the Air Force monument will be made as well.
“Oh, yeah,” Hendrix said about being excited about the trip. “It’s my first time, so I’ve never gotten to see any of this stuff before. We’re going to even try and see them change the guard at the tomb.”
Hendrix was drafted to the Army in 1963 during the height of the Vietnam War. After basic and advanced training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, he was deployed overseas to Germany.
“Back then we still used trains,” Hendrix said with a laugh. “I took a train out east and, after being activated, I was sent on a ship over to Germany.”
Hendrix stayed in Germany for a year from his 24th to his 25th birthday before returning back home to the United States. After basic training he earned the rank of private before working his way up to the Army’s fourth class, specialist, while in Germany.
Now, 60 years later, Hendrix will get to experience many of the monuments and memorials meant to honor him and the other veterans who served during those eras.
Selected to go a few years ago, Hendrix didn’t get to make the trip because of COVID-19. But after spending his time on the waitlist, on Saturday he finally gets to experience all that Indy Honor Flight has to offer.
The homecoming celebration will begin Saturday night about 8 p.m. at Plainfield High School for all those wishing to attend and celebrate with the veterans making the trip.